Two for the Money (2005)

Genre(s): Drama / Sports
Universal || R - 122 minutes - $29.98 || January 17th, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-01-17


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer(s): Dan Gilroy (written by)
Cast: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Armand Assante, Jeremy Piven, Jaime King


Theatrical Release Date: August 7th, 2005


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Writer & Director Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Making of Two for the Money
  • Insider Interview


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

"After the therapy, and the psychiatry, and the meetings, you know what it all comes down to? You're all f****d up."

Two for the Money is the Wall Street of sports gambling. You have a young man, Brandon Lang (McConaughey; Sahara) who rises from a career ending football injury to being one of the best predictors of the game. Walter Abrams (Pacino; The Recruit) is the head of one of the top sports betting outfits in New York. He recruits Lang and goes "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" on him -- though less gay -- and remakes Brandon's image, giving him an expensive car, clothes and a new name, John Anthony (aka "The Million-Dollar Man"). Of course, we all know the good times don't last in these morality tales.

Two for the Money is the empitome of an OK movie. I didn't really find anything bad about it but then again, there wasn't much that was very good either. Everything from the direction (DJ Caruso) to the screenplay -- inspired by true events -- to the acting is all fairly mundane. Even the great Al Pacino is merely playing the same kind of character from his other movies (especially The Recruit and Simone). Matthew McConaughey comes off as sympathetic, but not nearly the kind of "good guy" that I would root for. Finally, Rene Russo (playing Pacino's wife) is cute and all but like McConaughey, her character isn't that well rounded.

I think that the movie overall falls short from being anything noteworthy. On one side, the film wants to be a morality tale about money and power, how it can swallow someone up, turning a nice guy into a machine... Personally, I recommend about greed and morals: Boiler Room, starring Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel and Ben Affleck. While that movie isn't perfect, it still examines the aspects of selling junk stocks and the effects it has on the broker and the people who lose their livelihoods. Two for the Money has a quick take on this, but goes no further with it; it doesn't make judgments on gambling, just on those who gets engulfed with supplying it to the gamblers. And I guess that sums up Two for the Money... it's safe. Even though some movies become preachy when they try to shove a message down the viewer's throat, I can appreciate one that takes a chance instead of living in fear of turning a single person off.

Just because it's safe, doesn't necessarily make it good.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Considering Two for the Money wasn't much of a hit, the fact Universal provided more than a trailer is impressive to me. That said, what is here isn't great, though it is better than nothing.

Director & Writer Commentary - Director DJ Caruso is joined by screenwriter Dan Gilroy in a formal discussion about the movie, providing background on the making of the movie and the inspiration (covered in a featurette as well) behind the main character, Brandon Lang. While it's not the best duo commentary I've listened to, both Caruso and Gilroy provide a semi-lively conversation. If each did their own track, I imagine we would've worse off.

Deleted Scenes - There are 8 deleted scenes, all of which were taken out for good reason. A couple, watched on their own, are fine such as "Danny's College Fund" in which Brandon's brother loses his college money because of gambling, is well acted but, as stated in the optional commentaries from Caruso and Gilroy, would've piled onto the troubles Brandon already faced.

The Making of Two for the Money - Definitely has the look of a regular 'making-of' featurette, but I enjoyed it mainly because you get to see Al Pacino behind-the-scenes as well as his comments on the movie and his co-stars. So while it isn't very expansive (runs just over 10-minutes), it's still interesting.

Insider Interview - Screenwriter Dan Gilroy interviews Brandon Link, the real life Brandon Lang, whom the experiences in the movie are based upon. Instead of going through the movie scene for scene, Link gives a glimpse into the life of selling bets and in fact shows how he did that using a Dallas/Washington game as example.

The disc also features a theatrical trailer and several TV spots.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Picture and sound-wise, both are well done with some good use of the score (and dialogue coming through the center speaker primarily). The picture, presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35 aspect ratio), can be dark and murky at times (mainly in the beginning), but it does change from the beginning -- with a greenish, almost Matrix-like, color to, as Caruso describes in the commentary, butterscotch or warmer. While there's nothing phenomenal about either, any flaws do not detract from watching the feature.



.::OVERALL::.

Although this isn't exactly a movie that takes chances, it is still worth a rent because Al Pacino still has some flair, even if it's like previous works. McConaughey and Russo aren't stellar though they contribute a little to making the movie as good as it can be given the script's shortcomings (note: Russo is married to writer Gilroy). In any case, Two for the Money not a movie that you'll remember in a couple months but it's certainly harmless to give it a try.